The Effects of Cannabis on Mood | Growers Choice Seeds

The Effects of Cannabis on Mood

The Effects of Cannabis on Mood

Disclaimer: On the Growers Choice blog, we aim to educate you about cannabis, how it can potentially help, and how it can affect you. While more and more people are turning to cannabis to attempt to improve their health, the scientific jury is still out on its benefits and long-term effects. We do not advocate replacing prescription medication or beginning to use cannabis for medical reasons without first speaking with a doctor. Please do your research, never rely on a single source for your information, and use responsibly!

There are many reasons why people turn to marijuana. Some people hear from other users that marijuana can potentially help with certain medical conditions. Therefore, they might be looking for relief, or simply seeking a bit of recreation that isn’t much different than having a few beers. Based on some anecdotal evidence, research suggests that marijuana can help with psychiatric disorders (source 1).

So, whether you want to explore using marijuana as a fun evening activity, or you’re actively thinking about it as a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals, let’s dive into the details behind cannabis and mood.

Why does cannabis affect your mood?

Most people know by now that cannabis affects the brain. Specifically, it is the cannabinoids in the plant that generate all the effects this multipurpose plant provides. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds that, interestingly, match certain “receptors” already in our bodies (source 2). Because this link was discovered during early research into THC (the most prominent of the 80-plus cannabinoids), the system of receptors in the human body is often called the endocannabinoid system

This system is responsible for the production and dispersal of chemicals that help our bodies maintain homeostasis or equilibrium — something vital to our continued health and well-being, both physically and mentally. When this balance is thrown off, due to illness or other factors, we can feel crappy for a few hours, or get really sick.

Back to cannabinoids. These cannabis compounds bear a striking resemblance to neurotransmitters that interact with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. As a result, based on anecdotal evidence, smoking, vaporizing, or otherwise ingesting cannabis potentially enables these cannabinoids to fill in for missing neurotransmitters, prompt their creation, or build on our existing stores. 

The Receptors

There are two types of receptors in the endocannabinoid system: CB1 and CB2. Cannabis doesn’t affect everyone the same, and different types have different effects because the concentrations of these receptors are different throughout the body and from person to person.

CB1 receptors mostly exist in the brain, so cannabinoids that activate primarily CB2 receptors, which exist throughout the body, are going to have less of a psychoactive effect. This is a very simplified description, of course, but it should help make clear why cannabis has so many different effects.

Terpenes in Cannabis 

What are terpenes, you might ask? Terpenes are aromatic compounds that exist in many different types of plants, including our most beloved ganja plant, that contribute to their scents and in some cases, flavors (source 3). When it comes to marijuana, terpenes are the MVPs in the fragrance department, giving cannabis its wonderful classic, skunky scent (as well as every note that can be detected in a juicy, ripe bud). Aside from the smell, terpenes also contribute to marijuana’s potential therapeutic effects, and subsequently, the mood of the user.

Terpenes can interact synergistically with cannabinoids, a phenomenon known as the “entourage effect,” potentially enhancing the overall experience of consuming or smoking cannabis. Certain terpenes are believed to influence mood by interacting with neurotransmitter systems and receptors in the brain.

As an example, limonene, a terpene that exudes a zesty and delightful citrusy aroma, is known for its uplifting and energizing effects. This terpene has been of interest in ongoing research, due to the possibility that it might increase serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. Another terpene, linalool, found in lavender, is known for its calming and sedative properties, but this one might seem like a given, considering most folks know that a whiff of lavender can instantly transport them to a much calmer, happier place, contributing to a sense of well-being. While these are just two examples of terpenes that are present in cannabis plants, they attest to the notion that certain strains might be able to significantly influence the mood of the user.

Attempting to Boost Mood with Cannabis 

Whatever you’re seeking to accomplish, dosage is an important consideration. A small, infrequent dose of calming indica weed could help a person feel sleepy and relaxed. However, too much of the wrong strain can have you on edge! If you’re looking to give your mood a little bolster, you’ll want to make sure you are aware of a few vital, influencing factors alongside dosage. 

The first facet to think about is the cannabinoid and terpene content of your strain of choice. Different strains contain varying levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, which influences their effects and, of course, your mood! As we indicated earlier, terpenes play a role in the experience of any given cannabis strain, so it’s a good idea to have a look at those when you’re deciding. Cannabinoids THC and CBD also play a role in how you will feel when you are indulging in a strain, and the content of each of these within your strain is a must-know, as well as whether your strain of choice is of the indica or sativa variety. While both strain types are known to improve mood, indica often inspires a relaxed and happy experience and sativa is often associated with an invigorated and uplifted experience. Reading through detailed strain descriptions, like the ones that we offer on our website, can be incredibly helpful when you can’t decide!

As for dosage, it is absolutely critical to get right! Or, at least close to right. A low to moderate dose of cannabis can promote relaxation and euphoria, while higher doses, especially of THC-dominant strains, can sometimes lead to a less-than-ideal situation and a drop in mood. Therefore, starting with a small amount and gradually increasing it as needed is often recommended to find the optimal dose that enhances mood without incurring any adverse effects​. Don’t forget to weigh the options when it comes to the method of consumption, such as vaping or using edibles, as this can also influence the onset and duration of effects. As always, have fun and don’t be afraid to experiment! 

External References

  1. BMC Psychiatry. (2020). Medicinal cannabis for psychiatric disorders. Retrieved from the BMC Psychiatry website.
  2. National Library of Medicine. (2018). “Cannabinoid receptors and the endocannabinoid system.” Retrieved from the National Library of Medicine website.
  3. Medical News Today. (2020). What to know about terpenes. Retrieved from the Medical News Today website.

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